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English Country Restaurant

May 2006
We went out to dinner last weekend, to a pub with a good reputation for its food, in a village called Great Salkeld. All very peculiar and old-fashioned. We declined to sit in the deerskin-backed armchairs with a drink while perusing the menu – how passé that would have been had we done that! This was in contrast to the folks who arrived in their fresh-washed rugby shirts, their womenfolk in high-heeled shoes with straps up the ankles, who apparently treated this procedure as the norm. No!, we went straight to the table like urbane familiars, and sat under the disapproving eye of the stuffed head of a large Aberdeen Angus bull, and ate a rather old-fashioned meal of slices of duck with onion ice-cream. Now I know that onion ice-cream doesn’t sound old-fashioned but it really is archetypically that, it sounds like it’s supposed to be up-market but didn’t go with the duck at all, or at least none of our group thought it did. And the boss of the place who came to take our order said he could recommend the fish, which comes from Lake Victoria and is a river fish so is quite mild-flavoured and so large in size that we could be absolutely sure that the fillet we would receive was completely free of bones, this causing Hilary to exclaim with a laugh something to the effect that, Oh, we’re Cumbrians, we are!, we can’t be doing with bloody bones!; an observation on society that was apt, if potentially ill-judged. Quite why the fish has to be imported from Africa – ah well, we know the reason why. So I don’t think we’ll rush to go back there again. If only someone would open a decent restaurant round these parts.


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